Bonn culture

The International Silent Film Days start in Bonn on 16 August

Besondere Atmosphäre: Stephen Horne begleitet „Gefahren der Brautzeit“ mit Marlene Dietrich bei den Stummfilmtagen 2012.

A special atmosphere: Stephan Horne accompanies “Gefahren der Brautzeit” with Marlene Dietrich during the Silent Film Days 2012.

Bonn. The International Silent Film Days in Bonn are making an impression this year with a strong programme. They begin on 16 August. Here is an overview of this year’s highlights.

As you know, you have to be careful with superlatives. But the programme for the 34th International Silent Film Days, which will take place from 16 to 26 August in the Arkandenhof of the University of Bonn, offers so many highlights that you cannot simply call it “good,” and not only because of the masterpieces that form a common theme in the programme curated by Stefan Drößler. The director of the Filmmuseum in Munich has again found an outstanding mix and included rarities and priceless treasures as well as excellent classics showing how important cinematic heritage is. At a press conference in the Brotfabrik, he and Sigrid Limprecht from Filmkultur Bonn, gave a brief insight into some pioneering films, some of which created legends or even became legends themselves.

Above all, “Ben Hur” stands out. The monumental film from 1925 is still considered the most expensive silent film of all time, in which the famous chariot race alone was filmed in a specially constructed stadium using 47 cameras – for the time, a mammoth project in a class of its own. The imagery can certainly hold its own against modern productions, as a corresponding scene during the press conference illustrated. No wonder then, that “Ben Hur” made MGM the most powerful studio in the world.

But other titles have also made history. For example, “Flesh and the Devil,” Greta Garbo’s second Hollywood film, with which she finally established herself as an icon and which also turned her film partner John Gilbert, with whom she soon also started a personal relationship, into a side note. According to Drößler, the film also has “the longest horizontal love scene of the 1920s” – the guardians of public morals were probably only able to hold themselves back with difficulty at the time.

Also worth seeing are Buster Keaton’s first film, which will open the festival on 16 August, and which made a lasting impression on the Surrealists with its chaotic construction of a prefabricated house, as well as the slapstick “Battle of the Century” with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, which turns into probably the largest pie fight in film history. Another record.

As usual, all films will be accompanied by live music; besides veterans such as Joachim Bärenz and Günter Buchwald, a new artist, the harpist Elisabeth-Jane Baldry, will be a guest in Bonn.

The programme can be found on the internet at: internationale-Stummfilmtage.de

(Original text: Thomas Kölsch. Translation: kc)